Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in London - International Student Blogger, Maria Bortnovskaya

Your dreams to launch an enterprise and start your entrepreneurship journey can come true at the University of Westminster.

While most of the world can only dream of launching a business in the UK, here you will receive tangible support to begin the process all throughout your studies. For example, you could enter one of the competitions organised by the University and receive real financial support to develop your business idea further. I trusted that it would be an additional bonus for entrepreneurship minded students, and I was not an exception.

If reading this far from London, it is hard to imagine, but believe me, it happens for real!

To start, let me give a little bit of background about myself. I come from a family of professional musicians who also set up and ran a business. I have always dreamed of opening my own business. With 10 years of professional experience in media and PR, the time was right to step towards making my dream come true. Step one for me was to develop skills needed to run a business efficiently across international borders. This led me to the MA course in Media Management that I’m currently doing at the University of Westminster.

In this blog I would like to share with my fellow entrepreneurship adventurers some of my experiences in London. I will also provide some useful professional development tips!

 

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in London - International Student Blogger, Maria Bortnovskaya

To skip describing all the formal processes, I moved to London in September 2018. Over the last seven months I have focused on understanding the latest trends in the global media landscape. I have also been exploring the challenges that modern media organisations are currently facing and the ways to overcome those.

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in London - International Student Blogger, Maria Bortnovskaya

Given my career goals and professional interests, you can understand why I so actively participate in these entrepreneurship events and activities.

One thing I really want to share with you is the huge variety of free activities you can join in London. Furthermore, the University of Westminster gives you the support to transform your ideas into a real business.

Business idea step-by-step

The huge amount of support at Westminster to students wanting to start their own enterprise was a massive surprise. All throughout your studies, the University provides free tips on how to develop your business idea step-by-step.

There are a lot of events designed and organised especially for entrepreneurship minded students by the Creative Enterprise Centre (CEC). The CEC was launched recently, in 2017, to match students’ and alumni’s skills with the needs of external employers’ projects. Working with business minded students is only one area of the team’s work.  Shiela Birungi, the CEC Entrepreneurship Programme Manager becomes one of your favourite speakers and key contacts. She provides useful advice, and simultaneously motivates students to progress with the development of their business ideas.

Despite it’s relatively young age, the CEC has already become an essential part of students’ and alumni’s lives. Many of my classmates have started their creative careers thanks to the help, guidance and training provided by the CEC.

Different kinds of entrepreneurship support

There is a bunch of different available activities you can join. In this post I will tell you only about some of them.

First of all, you can attend workshops and panel discussions with industry experts and graduates who already run their own businesses. It gives you a chance to receive advice from those who have already succeeded in the world of entrepreneurism. Speaker guests provide an insight into how to create a sustainable business and how to reduce risks. They tell the audience which mistakes they made and how to avoid them. You can of course also ask questions (me below)!

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in London - International Student Blogger, Maria Bortnovskaya

One of the latest workshops I’ve attended was called “What it takes to develop your own online brand and app”. Howard Pull, Strategic Development Director at MullenLowe Profero (Westminster alumnus) spoke at the event. He gave interesting insights on marketing and the importance of good customer service. This speaker shared with us his knowledge obtained during his 18-year career at world-leading digital agencies. Howard currently focuses on digital strategy and transformation.

Students can book a one-to-one meeting. with a Careers Consultant for tailored advice on their business idea. Others, who are more likely to socialise actively, join competitions organised for entrepreneurship minded students.

Another great opportunity for career-focused students is the Westminster Employability Award, given the variety of free careers-focused activities. As a reward for your willingness and hard work you could win money prizes or receive other valuable benefits.

The Big Idea Competition

In March I attended the final of The Big Idea competition – an annual business competition for current Westminster students. The CEC organized the event in partnership with Santander Universities and NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs). Students were encouraged to apply with their business ideas across four categories: “Digital and Tech”, “Social and Environmental Impact”, “Freelancing”, and “Maker and Inventor”.

The audience, who also contributed to choosing the best idea, – gave their votes to participants they wanted to support. Malvin Onu was selected as the winner of the main prize and received a total of £3,000 funding.

Meanwhile, the other shortlisted applicants also received financial awards.

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in London - International Student Blogger, Maria Bortnovskaya

 

The Grand Prize Winner Malvin Onu is the founder of the social enterprise business idea ‘RunTrack’. Malvin’s ‘RunTrack’ is an online platform to develop new, stronger links between young people and community sports activity providers. He believes it will bring positive changes to the lives of youth and reduce UK gang violence among teenagers.

Soon after, we met again at the workshop “Idea Cafe: Share and get Advice on Your Business or Freelancing Idea”. Malvin mentioned how shortly after having won the competition, somebody had already contacted him to discuss collaborating. Isn’t it exciting?! Hopefully it will lead to a successful partnership between our entrepreneurship minded student and an external organisation that will want to support his business idea.

Malvin’s example inspired me to work even harder on developing my own business idea…..I will let you know about that in my future posts 😉

I look forward to sharing some more insights into London’s world of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship with you soon!

Enjoy.

Maria

For this post and other blogs from International Students at Westminster please visit International Student Blogs.

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